The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2: A House Divided – Game Review and Analysis
By Christopher Jester
Developer: TellTale Games
Publisher: TellTale Games
Distributor: Skybound Entertainment
Writer: Nick Breckon
Engine: TellTale Tool
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Playstation Vita, Ouya, iOS
Release Dates: March 4, 2014 (PC), March 6, 2014 (PS3, Xbox 360)
To all of those who thought episode one of The Walking Dead Season Two was a bit slow compared to the other outings can be rest assured that this episode picks up. It doesn’t just pick up in excitement, but in tension as well as it throws Clementine in some tough challenges. In fact, Episode 2 – A House Divided is potentially one of the better episodes of the entire franchise so far.
The episode starts out with the repercussions of the player’s last decision of “All That Remains” and begins in such a threatening situation that it will make you wonder if this could get any worse. That is the sort of scenario that players will find themselves in throughout the entire episode. It starts out with a bang and ends with plenty more. A House Divided does not let up from the minute you start a new game or begin from your last saved game; which is the way you should be playing by the way. Starting a new game from this episode would make all the decisions you have made before null and will not resonate as much. So be sure to go back and play The Walking Dead Season One, if you haven’t already, because some decisions from that season make some drastic turn of events in this episode.
What this episode has done masterfully more so than any other episode is make player choice feel like each one will have some huge consequence. Not a single decision that you make as Clementine is easy. Never will you feel more trepidation on whether another character’s fate is in your hands and the case of this episode this rings true on a couple of occasions.
That is what TellTale has done so expertly in this episode. It weaves a beautiful plot for Clementine as she is thrown into multiple instances of where her loyalties lie. It begins with Carver, voiced wonderfully by actor Michael Madsen, who comes to the cabin looking for members of his old crew. His cool, subdued, and raspy voice is perfect for such a cunning character that is likely to become iconic in the upcoming episodes. But the threat of his appearance spells disaster in the waiting for Clementine and her group. Much of the episode focuses on the looming threat of his emergence.
By now you either love or hate, TellTale’s interactive story in The Walking Dead. This episode had a healthy blend of QTE action sequences, and interactive consequences that changed the direction of the story. As previously mentioned, decisions in this outing is nothing short of demanding. They are stressful, they are challenging, and more often than not leave relationships fulfilled or damaged. Once the characters reach what appears as a safe haven, the decisions are so ramped up that each situation feels like someone has a gun to your head. You’re terrified that making a decision could be the wrong one and could ultimately spell the end.
What is so chilling about this episode is how human it makes you feel. It can very heartwarming and it can be very heart wrenching. It can make you laugh and often times it make you sad. The writing for The Walking Dead has never been better. The weight of the world is not only coming down on Clementine but the player as well. Repercussions from season one plays a major factor, and subtly decisions from season one’s DLC “400 Days” rears its ugly head; hinting at a direction the season may go.
Maybe that is what makes this episode so great. The hints at what could be in the direction of the season, and on a smaller level like how each decision could take a different route. Go back and play the episode again; it is highly recommended. You’d be surprised how many choices branched the story in completely different direction and locales. Waiting to see how TellTale tops this in the next few episodes is exciting. With its weighty choices, memorable villain in Carver and unsurpassed tension – this is one of TellTale’s best.
PunchDrunkGamer.com Score: 10 out of 10
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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